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ENG 200H - Critical Thinking and Writing, Honors (Fall D 2017)

 Melissa Reddish

Melissa Reddish

Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Honors Program
410-334-2859
Department:
Arts and Humanities
Building:
Brunkhorst Hall
Room Number:
BH 333
Course Description:
This course is designed to help students develop critical thinking and writing skills by focusing on the creation, analysis and evaluation of arguments. Students study the content and structure of arguments, the Toulmin model of argument and motivational appeals, and critically analyze the arguments of classical and modern writers. Students holistically apply these rhetorical principles to the creation of their own argumentative essays and to classroom debates and discussions. Independent research is required. This course is one of two core courses in the honors program and is required for honors program graduates. Hours: 39 lecture. Prerequisites: Honors program eligibility and ENG 101 with a grade of "B" or better or permission of the instructor. Usually offered in the fall and spring.

What Makes This an Honors Course?

Honors, students examine rhetoric in its myriad forms in order to understand how words and even images gain the power of persuasion. They analyze rhetoric through the lens of Aristotle, Toulmin, and Rogers. They explore oratory in the form of famous and contemporary speeches, written rhetoric in the form of articles and opinion editorials, and visual rhetoric in the form of advertisements, political cartoons, photojournalism, and documentaries. They also investigate the different contexts for rhetoric, exploring how politics can complicate our notions of persuasion and how logical fallacies can arise from imprecision. Like any Honors class, students must sift through disparate and often conflicting viewpoints, many of which have merit. Students then practice the art of persuasion in their own writing and speaking through reflective journals, a nonfiction presentation, a documentary film essay, a discussion leader project, a researched argument essay, and a formal class-wide debate. Besides a focus on rhetoric, our goal as instructors is to facilitate a genuine exchange of ideas in a safe academic space and to foster more active, concerned citizenship in the process. We too engage in a deep examination of our own viewpoints and the rhetoric we find most appealing, further dismantling and re-shaping our worldviews in the process. We often learn something new about the subjects our students are most passionate about as well. Understanding how words gain their power, through different modes and contexts, is at its core the goal of Critical Thinking and Writing.

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